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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 18, 2019

1. Vaping Breakthrough

The outbreak of lung diseases connected to e-cigarettes and vaping has alarmed health officials across the nation. Sudden lung ailments have affected thousands of vapers and caused dozens of deaths. Now medical researchers believe they have pinned down the cause. A chemical additive sometimes used in THC, cannabis and other vaping products may be the culprit, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The additive, Vitamin E acetate, was found in samples taken from 29 patients who had become sick with vaping related illnesses in 10 states, the CDC reported. “These new findings are significant,” a CDC spokesman said. CDC officials said Vitamin E acetate is “enormously sticky” when it goes into the lungs and “does hang around” when it is inhaled. More than 2,000 cases of vaping associated illnesses have now been reported nationally, with more than 40 deaths. The vaping epidemic is a health issue getting more and more attention across the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about vaping, related health risks and efforts by communities to address the problem. Create a multi-media presentation for the class, summarizing the latest developments.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Red Alert

“Red tides” are natural ocean events that occur when algae in the water “bloom” quickly and spread. When red tides occur, they can endanger fish and shellfish and make beaches smell like unflushed toilets. Two years ago, an unusually severe red tide caused widespread damage in the state of Florida. Toxins released by the algae killed sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and fish, leaving them to rot on beaches. Now, to the dismay of local residents, red tide is back. Algae has returned to the waters off southwest Florida and has begun to work its way up the state’s western coast on the Gulf of Mexico. Fish and turtle deaths have been reported, and residents worry that conditions will get worse in the months ahead. Though the outbreak is not yet as widespread as the last, scientists note that concentrations of algae already are high. Natural events can sometimes have negative consequences for people, wildlife and the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a natural event that is having wide impact. Use what you read to design a public service ad for TV or the newspaper, highlighting things people need to know about the event, and how they can stay safe.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic. what he species fac

3. Mammoth Discovery

Woolly mammoths were ancient relatives of today’s elephants, and with their giant tusks they could fend off most predators. Ancient humans, however, were another story. A new discovery in the nation of Mexico has revealed that prehistoric humans developed elaborate traps to capture and kill mammoths for their meat and skins. The traps were deep, long pits dug into the ground, according to scientists who discovered two trap sites containing the remains of 14 mammoths near the city of Tultepec in south-central Mexico. Researchers said early humans apparently would separate mammoths from their herd and drive them into a pit they couldn’t escape from. The two traps found near Tultepec were believed to have been dug about 15,000 years ago, scientists said. Each was about 5.5 feet deep and 80 feet long. The discovery changes what scientists know about the hunting habits of prehistoric humans. Previously, scientists had found little evidence that hunters attacked mammoths in a systematic way. Mammoths went extinct on Earth about 4,000 years ago. The discovery of the mammoth traps in Mexico is changing the way scientists view past life on Earth. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other discoveries that are changing what scientists think about the lives of ancient humans or animals. Pick one and write a paragraph or short paper telling how the discovery is changing what scientists think and why that is important.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing visual and textual evidence when writing.

4. PB&J to the Rescue

Hunger is not just a problem affecting families in poor neighborhoods. It also can affect college students living on limited budgets. A new program at a university in the state of Alaska provided help for students facing a hunger — and it did so in an unusual way. The University of Alaska branch in the city of Anchorage allowed students who had unpaid parking fines to pay them off by donating jars of peanut butter, jelly, jams or other spreads for students facing a “food deficit.” A donation of two jars would erase $10 worth of fines, while five jars eliminated $60, UPI News reported. The foods were distributed by the university’s Emergency Food Cache run by the Student Health and Counseling Center. Hunger is a problem many communities are trying to address for low-income families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about programs in your community or state that are trying to address hunger issues. As a class, brainstorm ways your class or school could support one or more of these programs this holiday season. Write an open letter to students seeking their support for anti-hunger programs.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Royal Puppies

Everyone loves puppy stories, but here is one that is fit for a king. In the southeast Asian nation of Thailand, scientists have revived the bloodline of a beloved pet dog of a former king by using modern techniques of artificial insemination. The dog named Khun Thong Daeng was a hunting dog of the Basenji breed who had died in 2015, a year before King Bhumibol Adulyadej. To honor his father, current King Maha Vajiralongkorn approved using frozen sperm from two sons of Khun Thong Daeng to artificially inseminate two royal female Basenjis. Eight healthy puppies were born and they were introduced publicly last month to mark the third anniversary of the late king's death. Like King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, many people care deeply about their pets. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people showing love for their pets in special ways. Use what you read to write a creative holiday story for younger children based on one or more of the situations you read about. Draw illustrations for your story and read it with younger classes or students.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.